Top CEOs call on business leaders to promote a low-carbon strategy across Ireland

18 May 2018

Killarney National Park. Image: Toinoublz /Shutterstock

Leaders from major companies call for a low-carbon and inclusive business future.

CEOs of some of Ireland’s largest firms have launched the Leaders’ Group on Sustainability, a coalition dedicated entirely to addressing the country’s most pressing sustainability issues, such as reducing carbon emissions as well as spotting future opportunities.

Carbon emissions strategy

Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), the national sustainability network, successfully convened 26 firms representing a workforce of more than 90,000 people in Ireland to work collaboratively in tackling social, environmental and economic issues.

The Low-Carbon Pledge is one of the first actions announced by the group, and it is a dedicated and public commitment to lead the transition to a low-carbon economy, reducing the Scope 1 and 2 carbon emission intensity by 50pc by 2030.

CEOs of companies including Bank of Ireland, EirGrid, Fujitsu, Janssen and PwC are calling on business leaders to make sustainability a central priority of their leadership and to promote a low-carbon vision across their operations, products and services to help Ireland achieve its international commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate.

A long-term view for Irish businesses

Tomás Sercovich, CEO of BITCI, said: “The global Business and Sustainable Development Commission has identified $12trn in economic opportunity for the low-carbon and inclusive economy, and this needs to be embraced by Irish businesses.

“We must adopt a long-term view of our business models to achieve this. We are delighted to convene this unique platform for change in corporate Ireland where we will seek to influence the business community and policy.”

Removing barriers

The group is also working together to remove barriers to social inclusion in Ireland by examining how Irish businesses can improve their processes and cultures to train, attract and retain marginalised and vulnerable people.

It has identified the need for businesses to adapt to emerging work practices that will transform Irish industry like the gig economy, contract work and automation, to ensure those changes benefit employee, employer and society as a whole.

Aidan Skelly, interim CEO at EirGrid and lead for the low-carbon subgroup, said: “The low-carbon pledge is an important step for the group. As business leaders, we must rise to the climate challenge and be accountable for our actions. We believe we will have a greater impact on sustainability through sharing best practice, pooling resources and exchanging data. Business has a role to play in supporting not only our own ambitions to reduce our carbon emissions, but also those in the communities that we operate in and throughout our supply chain.”

Beneficial for business and social cohesion

Sinead Patton, chief finance and commercial officer at Veolia and lead for the social cohesion subgroup, said: “We will seek to make employability equal for all, helping individuals affected by social inequality and providing the leadership required to encourage other companies to follow suit. Our approach reflects a belief that a good working society is beneficial both for social cohesion and for business.”

Alastair Blair, country managing director at Accenture in Ireland and lead for the worker of the future subgroup, said: “The nature of work is changing and there is a growing emphasis on more flexible and agile work practices, as well as collaboration between humans and machines. We will examine ways of ensuring the workforce in a new economy will have balanced benefits for business, society and the individual.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects